The funny thing about knowledge is that once you know something you can’t really unknow it. So you now have a piece of knowledge and no one can take it from you. That alone (to me) is why reading is so important and so powerful. I look at books now and I get excited because I know that the information in that book can be knowledge in my head once I read the book. I haven’t always felt like this though. I’m almost ashamed to say that I’ve never been an avid reader as an adult. I read a lot of literature as a child but it was mainly forced reading of religious material or school textbooks. So after graduate school, as I settled into life as a busy single mom and full-time working adult, I hardly ever read a book. After a long day at work, my evenings were spent at sports practices, helping with homework, tutoring, and cooking dinner. Any free time that I had was spent catching up on all my favorite reality television shows or scrolling through social media. (Don’t judge me.) With so much going on, the last thing on my mind was reading a damn book. Besides, I was finally out of school and free from forced reading for the first time in my life so why in the world would I read when I wasn’t being forced to?
Fast forward to 2018 and it’s crazy how things have changed. I didn’t start this year off on some quest to read a ton of books. There was no New Years resolution to read more books. It honestly sort of just happened. Around the middle of January I had the desire to learn more about money and finances so I picked up a copy of the book Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. After I read that book I read two more books by this author and then several other books on the topic of money and finances. I learned so much that I started thinking of other topics that I wanted to learn more about. So I found books on those topics as well. And it sort of just took off from there. I was so disappointed in myself for not seeking out this information years ago and before I knew it six months had passed and I had read 50 books. I went from hardly reading at all, to reading 50 books in six months! I thought about aiming for 100 books for the entire year but I decided to slow down a bit and start writing more and focusing more on applying the knowledge in other ventures. I should also note that there were also a few times that I picked up books to read but didn’t finish reading them because I didn’t like them or they were boring to me. I never felt obligated to finish a book if I didn’t like it. Reading for me has to be enjoyable and it should not feel like a chore.
My biggest discovery in helping me to read more (and actually enjoy reading) was audiobooks. I love audiobooks! I can listen to a book while I’m cleaning up, driving, doing my hair and make-up, etc. I still enjoy the tangible copies of books too, but I love audiobooks. I especially enjoy audiobooks when the author is the person narrating the book. I’ve listened to audiobooks by Oprah, Gabrielle Union, and Michelle Obama and they were the persons reading their books to me. I mean… how can you not enjoy that?!
In reading that many books I quickly found out that books can get very expensive! I tried out several audiobook apps before finally settling on the Scribd app. Scribd, to me, is like the Netflix for books. I pay a $9 monthly subscription fee to have access to tons of e-books and audiobooks. I mainly use Scribd for their audiobooks and then if I want a tangible copy of a book I buy it from the book store or check it out from the library. I usually buy the book if I really like it and want to add it to my library.
Reading has definitely changed me for the better and it has forever changed my outlook on life and my perspective on the world. I am a firm believer that you should never stop learning and seeking to gain more knowledge no matter how old you are. There was once a time not too long ago when people who looked like me would have been beaten or killed if they were caught reading. Even with this very real threat, they still sought out books and newspapers in an attempt to learn how to read. That speaks volumes as to how important reading was to them. I am forever grateful to each of them for their bravery, diligence, and tenacity.
Below is a list of my favorite books from 2018 (in no particular order):
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr. Joy Degruy
The Miseducation of the Negro by Dr. Carter G. Woodson
Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
The Slaves War by Andrew Ward
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis
Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk
Assata by Assata Shakur
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Becoming by Michelle Obama
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
What were your favorite books from 2018? Leave your comment below!